Career Path: What Is It and Why It’s Useful For Companies?

With the high cost and other challenges that come with employee turnover, organizations need to find ways to improve employee retention. Companies can implement a wide range of strategies, and career pathing is one of them. 

In this article, we’ll discuss what a career path is, its benefits for organizations, and a few tips to create one. 


What Is a Career Path?

A career path for employees is like their professional roadmap. It’s a list of the jobs they intend to hold to reach their ultimate goals or objectives for their career. 

For employers, career pathing means laying out an employee’s potential trajectory through the organization. The process involves defining goals and determining the skills and experience an employee must possess to achieve them. It’s all about creating a path for employee’s career growth within the organization. 



Differences Between Career Pathing and Career Mapping

Career pathing and career or talent mapping are often used interchangeably, but they are just closely related concepts.

If career pathing is creating one career road, career mapping is identifying and outlining many different career paths an employee can take. You can think of career mapping as a broader landscape of career paths.



Why Is A Career Path So Important?

Nobody wants to work a dead-end job. A study by Better Buys found that over 80% of professionals would change jobs if a new employer offered them more professional development opportunities. 

An effective career pathing enables your employees to visualize their future within your company. It can also be a way of showing them that you care. When team members are given chances for career growth and feel valued, job satisfaction, retention, and engagement rates tend to increase.



Different Types of Career Paths

Career pathing can be vertical or horizontal:

  1. Vertical career pathing – This presents opportunities for higher roles within the organization. It’s like a traditional corporate ladder where an employee moves from a lower to a leadership position. 
  2. Horizontal career pathing – Instead of offering promotions or demotions, lateral career pathing can mean switching niches or moving into a different department. 




Benefits of Career Pathing

Career pathing can benefit organizations and employees in many ways. Below are some of them:

Benefits for Companies

  • Showcasing clear career paths can help attract top talents, making recruitment less challenging.
  • Reduce turnover by demonstrating career growth opportunities.
  • A lower turnover rate will allow companies to identify and nurture high-potential employees for leadership roles.
  • Career pathing boosts employee engagement, increasing their productivity as a result.
  • Career pathing encourages employees to continuously hone their skills and develop new ones, enabling companies to adapt to their changing needs and market dynamics.

Benefits for Employees

  • Employees can get better control of their employment journey.
  • The opportunities for career growth can lead to increased employee motivation.
  • Career pathing can help employees determine which skill to develop to take on a role they’re aiming for.


Examples of Career Paths

Here are some examples of different career paths, specifically in the human resource field:

Vertical Career Path Example

As previously mentioned, vertical career paths include movement to a lower position or advancement to higher-level positions. 

  • Human resource manager promotion to Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO)
  • An HR coordinator becoming the HR manager

Horizontal Career Path Example

Also called lateral career pathing, horizontal career pathing refers to transitioning from one field to another. 

  • A human resource coordinator pursuing a career in marketing
  • A human resource manager switching to a finance role
  • A workforce planning employee moving to employee and labor relations



How to Create a Career Pathing Strategy

To create an effective career path that meets employee’s goals and objectives, some basic steps should be followed.

  1. Assessment. Whether you’re creating a career path for yourself or your organization, the process should start with assessment. For employees, it means assessing skill sets and career goals. For employers, it can mean assessing business needs, goals, and growth trajectories.
  2. Communication. Discuss career growth opportunities and the requirements of the new role with your team members. If you’re an employee, you can set up time with the manager to discuss your future with the organization.
  3. Evaluation. Regularly assess the program to determine room for improvement and ensure employees get what they need to reach their goals.


Best Practices for Career Pathing

Here are some more tips for a more effective career pathing.

  • Conduct a talent gap analysis to determine which jobs to target in the career pathways development. 
  • Form a planning team who will oversee the development of career pathways. 
  • Offer opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to help employees progress toward their goals.


How Kilpatrick Can Help Your Company in Creating A Good Career Pathing Strategy?

When career pathing becomes challenging, Kilpatrick Executive can help. The company has certified coaches and seasoned human resource professionals ready to help your company with all your HR needs. Feel free to contact us to learn more how we can help.